The Mindfulness of Tiny Living

It seems every day there are more and more articles on tiny houses focused on the physical aspects of construction mindfulwhich are incredibly useful and necessary. There are a plethora of videos and blogs providing excellent instruction on how to get your tiny house built but what about the act of living the tiny life? Living the tiny life has brought a certain mindfulness to my living. Now that I live it, I truly believe that acquiring mindfulness is assisted by downsizing and learning to live with less.

When I speak of mindfulness I’m referring to the act of attentive awareness of reality.  Being in the present moment, for me, is more easily achieved in a small space without the distractions that a larger space often brings me. I am very good at finding ways to distract myself but in a tiny house, often, whatever you are trying to ignore continually stares you in the face. I mentioned this very thing in a post back in March dealing with conflict but it goes for anything you might be trying to avoid-an article to write, a work assignment to finish or a hyper pup to walk!  There is no where to run in a tiny house. You can only go so long before you may, quite literally, bump up against, or be jumped on, by the very responsibility you are trying to avoid!

For me, procrastination is often an attempt to avoid the present. I’ll make excuses but the simple fact is that in 98 sq. feet mindfulness1I just can’t find that much to distract me for long. Mindfulness is a very difficult thing for many of us. I certainly have a bad case of “monkey mind,” the Buddhist term for restlessness (among other definitions). Living the tiny life has increased my awareness of the present moment thanks to lots of banged elbows and head bumps in the loft! Physically you are constantly being made aware of where you are in space because there isn’t much of it!

The Buddha taught that mindfulness was one of the seven factors of bodhi, or enlightenment, and that it was of great importance to reach this state of non-suffering. While I don’t expect a tiny house to give me complete freedom from suffering, there are aspects of living the tiny life that provide me a path to mindfulness. Having less material items gives me a great sense of freedom. Downsizing the stuff I’d been shuffling around for years really lightened my load, both physically and spiritually. Living the tiny life pushed me to really look at what I needed, rather than what I thought I needed. That was an important step in my path to increased daily mindfulness.

Cedric regularly feels physically restless in our tiny house. It leads him out the door into the woods and he’s able to bring mindfulnesshimself back to the present. Nature is where he finds mindfulness and our living space releases him into the forest where he rediscovers serenity. I think it’s important to think about lifestyle and reflect deeply, not only on the physical make-up of a small space, but the spiritual and emotional side of tiny living. You may well end up discovering that it allows mindfulness to infuse more of your daily life or it could have the affect of inhibiting it. I’ve come to learn that such considerations are essential to building a tiny house that brings  the most peace and comfort.

Your Turn!

  • Does living the tiny life bring you a greater sense of peace?


  1. I think living tiny certainly has the potential to be less stressful and distracting, based on how much of my time is spent doing things to keep our large home clean, organized, and maintained.

  2. I have been living in my wonderful tiny 6 x 10 house with a 4’deep porch for a month now. It has no plumbing, so I fill up my water crock every night for the next day from my husband’s house. I climb into my cozy comfortable sleeping nook, and cuddle up in my downy comforter while cool breezes blow across the loft. In the mornings, the birds awaken me and I sit up and make up my bed, then crawl out from under the covers and finish making it up, piling the 6 pillows up in a pretty fashion. I slowly climb down my tiny ladder, put it away, and then empty my bladder in a large coffee can which I will mix with water and pour on the garden on my way to work (there is a composting toilet, too). I heat water in my kettle using my alcohol burning stove top while running more water in the sink and pouring in two or three tablespoons of baking soda to wash my hair. Then I fill up several small containers with clear water for rinsing (putting a little vinegar in one of them). After washing my hair in the sink, I let the water out of the sink into the sealed tub below, and run more water for a bath, this time using only one tablespoon of baking soda in the water. My skin and hair are so soft when I am done. This water, too, will be poured out into the garden on my way to work. After dressing, and combing my hair, I heat some water for coffee, put on my shoes, open my tiny front door and greet the world. I put my things on the bench outside while I pour water out, then go inside the “big house” to wake my husband who has yet to try sleeping in the tiny house. Later, after work, I will change into something comfortable, check my emails at my little desk inside my tiny house, and enjoy the breezes and afternoon shade while listening to birds sing. I built a 100 watt solar generator with which to run my fan and charge my iPad and cell phone, so I have a little electricity. I also have solar lanterns. When it is time, I will cook some of my supper here on my stove top and some outside on the grill. My husband and I will spend the evening together and then I will retire to my tiny house again. I love it. It is a process of living that harkens to an older time, and I love it. Hopefully, he will join me soon, and then maybe we will build a little bigger one.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your routine with us. I’m a tiny house fancier but haven’t yet made the jump. I’m older and fight several health issues, so I’m more into looking at travel trailers for myself and hubby. He, like yours, isn’t ready for roughing it. I’ve often wondered how people handle the mundane chores of washing their hair, etc., when living without water. I know that some use their workplaces or gymnasiums, but your routine makes a lot of sense and answered my questions. Hope hubby ventures out to the little house soon. Perhaps the nicer weather of summer will lure him out with you.

  3. This is great, Andrea. Tiny living is more about the philosophy for me so I love hearing from others who feel the same way. I even wrote about it on my own blog last week:

    • Hi Laura,

      Thanks for sharing! Checked out your article and really enjoyed your writing. Tiny living is a definitely a mind set for me so it was great to read about your perspective on that!

  4. We still have a two room McMansion. Hope to own a nano house one day.

    We’re culturally programmed to spend way too much on housing.

  5. It can do no less if one allows the change to encompass other aspects of their lives as well.

  6. Yes.

    I know from experience.
    I’ve had the trashy mcmansion- it wasn’t nice at all. cold, sterile, isolated, energy hog.
    I’ve had smaller homes, but those too were way to big and took alot of work and money.

    My 34′ tiny house on wheels cost me less than $10000 to build, is super insulated so costs hardly anything to either hear or cool. It’s beautiful, if I do say so myself, though many others have said it, too.
    I’m blessed, I know it.

    I’m s-l-o-w-l-y sharing my experiences with videos, on my YT channel. I’ve been living in my Tiny house now almost 11 months and it is AWESOME !

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